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Prevention of injuries to children and young people: the way ahead for the UK
  1. Elizabeth Towner1,
  2. Heather Ward2
  1. 1Department of Child Health, University of Newcastle
  2. 2Centre for Transport Studies, University College London
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Elizabeth Towner, Community Child Health, Donald Court House, 13 Walker Terrace, Gateshead NE8 1EB
 (e-mail: e.l.m.towner{at}

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Injury in children and young people is not inevitable. Accidents and the injuries that result from them, are not chance events. Patterns of injury can be identified that reflect a person's age, the environment in which children and young people live, and the activities in which they are engaged. Greater understanding of the causes of injury can help us in the development of effective preventive strategies. Opportunities to prevent injuries occur through a range of educational, environmental, and legislative approaches. We need to fully mobilise these opportunities to save lives and improve the health of children and young people in the UK.

When one considers the worldwide public health importance of injuries to this age group, it is surprising that only a small number of potential interventions have been rigorously evaluated. Moreover, of those with proven efficacy, many prevention measures have been poorly implemented. But there are a number of interventions that we know to be effective and others that have the potential to be effective. In this chapter, we attempt to distill the essence of injury prevention by first providing an overview of the broad approaches. We then discuss the specific interventions and methods that have been shown to be effective. The broader context of policies and cultures that affect injury are then set out. Finally, we pull together the strands to consider what is still required for more effective preventive action in the UK.

Approaches to injury prevention

The problems of injuries to children and young people stem from their complexity and wide ranging nature. Typical examples include an 18 month old child reaching up in a kitchen and pulling down a mug of scalding tea, an 8 year old falling from a climbing frame in a playground and fracturing her leg, or a 12 year old pedestrian knocked down by a …

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